United States expecting Hamilton to host World Cup qualifier, based on cold-weather choices

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Published November 24, 2021 at 7:53 pm

Hamilton native Milan Borjan's cold-weather attire inspired memes when Canada played its last two games in 2022 World Cup Qualifying outdoors in Edmonton. (OneSoccer)

There is renewed speculation about Hamilton hosting a Canada-United States clash in World Cup qualifying, thanks to the Americans’ choice of cold-weather venues for the next international window.

Both undefeated Canada (16 points on a 4-4-0 record) and second-placed United States (15 points on 4-3-1) face three games in seven days when the CONCACAF octagonal kicks up again late in January. The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday that its Jan. 27 and Feb. 2 games will be played outdoors in Columbus, Ohio and St. Paul, Minnesota. Those fixtures are sandwiched around the Jan. 30 border battle, where Canada will host the U.S. in a top-of-the-table tilt.

Washington Post soccer scribe Steven Goff, who said last week that Tim Hortons Field was in the mix reiterated that the game is slated for Hamilton.

Last Jan. 30 in Hamilton, it was -4C (25F) in the evening. It felt like -8C (18F), which is slightly milder than the game-time temperatures at Canada’s last home game in Edmonton on Nov. 16 against Mexico.

Soccer Canada will pick the venue, of course. The enclosed B.C. Place in Vancouver would seem like an obvious choice. But basic man management, namely body-clock and jet-lag issues for first-choice talents such as Hamilton goalkeeper Milan Borjan, Brampton forwards Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin, along with bona fide international stars Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, might favour Canada choosing a more easterly location that is closer to European time.

Canada’s two away matches in the next window, at Honduras (Jan. 27) and El Salvador (Feb. 2), will both be in the Central time zone. The one-hour difference in Southern Ontario might be looked at more favourably than a two-hour difference in the other direction in Vancouver.

Well nothing is official, that is  a consideration, even if playing outdoors against the U.S. would not represent the same degree of gamesmanship that it did when Canada hosted Costa Rica and Mexico in Edmonton.

The top three teams in CONCACAF will qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the fourth-place team will enter a last-chance inter-confederation playoff. Canada, of course, has made the men’s World Cup finals only once, in 1986.

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